Advisors must act on business development, now more than ever.

There are times when you can be less than great and still succeed. This isn't one of them. I don't need to tell you about the world in which you're operating today; you know how cutthroat it is. Many financial advisors have become immobilized. The successful ones have less money, the mediocre ones are damn near broke, and the ones who weren't any good in the first place walked out of the business. I understand what you're going through, and I'd like to ask you just one question: What are you doing about it?

Some advisors are seizing the opportunities inherent in the current conditions, taking this time of a depressing and depressed market to get better at what they do and be even more selective about who they serve. Are you one of them?

Think of the batter who pulls himself out of a slump. Sure, he goes to see a sports psychologist, and he also takes a heck of a lot more batting practice. He doesn't hang around the park, moping and commiserating with anyone who'll listen about how life has thrown him a spitball. No, he gets out in front of the pitching machine and starts swinging.

No doubt the game you're playing right now has gotten tougher. Maybe the general circumstances or your personal situation have bummed you out. But none of this is permanent: The market will get better, so unless you are suffering from clinical depression, you're not going to need counseling or be on Prozac forever. If your immobilization is due solely to this temporary situation, this is the perfect time to do something-while nobody else is.

What should you do? That's the million-dollar question. Part of the answer is deciding what you're not going to do: You're not going to hang out with other people in the industry who are interested in whining about how bad things are and in justifying their inaction. Instead, you are going to seek out the people-both your peers and those who provide coaching services to financial professionals-who will help you improve your game and increase your probability of producing the results you want.

Remember that old after-shave commercial?-"Thanks! I needed that!" Look for people who can give you that bracing slap in the face, who can bring your focus back into the now and keep you from becoming immobilized by whatever is plaguing your colleagues.

Where Can You Turn?

Recently, an industry magazine editor asked me why I thought people weren't turning to the associations, why attendance has been flagging at events. Honestly, I don't have the answer to that one, except to point out that advisors may be staying away from the associations for the same reasons potential clients avoid some advisors' offices: They don't think there's enough value in it for them. What's the point of going when they think it's not worth it? That's not to say there isn't actually value offered, just that many people don't see it.

If you're one of those who perceive a lack of value, then the question is: If you're not involved with your association, what are you doing to get the value you need to build your business? Plenty of resources still serve the financial services industry. Our company is just one of them. Our clients, financial advisors just like you, have never needed us more. So this is the time we have chosen to invest in more people being on the phone talking to financial advisors and helping them implement what they have already invested in, for even greater success. We are doing more now than we've ever done before to help the financial advisor, and we're not the only ones. You would be wise to find the best source(s) for you: Find training and assistance that is just as committed to getting better in this down time as you are.

Of course, one of the great services association meetings provide is to lay out a smorgasbord of resources for advisors. You can get a taste of a multitude of possibilities, then make your decision about which ones to pursue on your own. Buffet-style education can have its drawbacks, however. What you gain in breadth of options, you lose in depth of training.

For those who do attend association meetings, there may be the temptation to hear as many speakers as possible and feel afterward as if they've achieved some kind of professional growth. My mentor, Max Dixon, is fond of saying, "People have a tendency to bask in the false coziness of unimplemented insight." In other words, people confuse insight with action, feeling that learning something new is enough. It's that old axiom: When all is said and done, more is said than done.

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